“The good and the wise lead quiet lives.” — Euripides
A female customer recently approached a manager at the Fayetteville Goodwill with an unusual request: She wanted to speak to the person who cleans the store’s bathrooms.
The woman was introduced to a longtime Goodwill team member named Brian. Recalling their conversation, Brian’s face lights up.
“She said these bathrooms are the most cleanest bathrooms that you’ve ever been into,” he explains, grinning. “It made me feel happy.”
It was a rare moment of public recognition for a Goodwill employee who, for more than a decade, has quietly gone about his job with dignity, diligence and determination. But ask Brian’s co-workers and they will tell you, he is a top performer and a source of inspiration.
“Brian works harder than anybody I’ve ever seen,” said assistant manager Angela Bunn. “He’s really proficient at what he does, too.”
A first-time visitor to the store might easily overlook Brian, because he tends to stay focused on his duties of cleaning, sweeping, mopping and putting fresh merchandise on the shelves. Many regular customers, however, know Brian by his ever-present smile and gentle blue eyes if not by name. A few may have even heard him crack a joke or mention one of his favorite topics — such as fishing, NASCAR or his dachshund, Bernie.
Brian hasn’t always been comfortable around people.
Born in Nashville, Brian and one of his four siblings were adopted and raised by an aunt and uncle, whom he considers his mother and father. Despite having a learning disability, Brian graduated from high school in 1996.
Afterward, he worked as a dishwasher at a pizza restaurant and then for nine years as a
housekeeper at a motel where his mother was employed. On the job, he occasionally became the target of rude or dishonest people.
When the hotel was sold, Brian’s family moved to Fayetteville, a small town of about 7,000 in rural Lincoln County. After that, Brian struggled for a full year to find work. He applied with numerous employers with no success.
He eventually sought help from a state vocational rehabilitation center, where a job coach suggested he apply at Goodwill. He did and was hired in February of 2007.
“Brian has flourished since he started at Goodwill,” said Pam Leach, the store’s administrator. “He is upbeat, gives great customer service and always does a great job.”
Though he was initially shy, over the years Brian became more at ease with his co-workers, whom he says are some of the friendliest, most helpful people he has ever known. He also enjoys interacting with customers.
Now 40, Brian takes a public transportation shuttle to work every day. Though his mother died in 2016, he still lives with his father, who is 78. He uses his paycheck to buy groceries and pay utilities on their home.
Brian says his job has allowed him to save a little money and to dream about tomorrow. Someday, he would like to get married and own his own home or even a small farm.
“This job gives me the independence I need for my future,” he says.
He is also grateful to be part of an organization that helps people like him — people in need of an opportunity to make a better life for themselves.
“Goodwill has changed my life from the good to the better,” he says. “I feel honored to be part of this mission.”
Mercedes: Mercedes had never held a job before. When she came to Goodwill. READ HER STORY
Linda: Linda’s husband died in 2009, she lost more than her spouse… READ HER STORY
Kevin: For most of his life, Kevin wore his unique ability to adapt like a… READ HIS STORY
Ernest: Ernest served in the U.S. Army for more than 18 years, and though he… READ HIS STORY
— By Chris Fletcher
Prior to joining Goodwill as its PR & Communications Manager in 2014, Fletcher was a professional journalist for
more than 25 years working at media outlets in three states, including the Associated Press.